Editor’s Note: We have changed the photo on this story to more accurately reflect the product in question.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — An Illinois woman is suing Fireball’s parent company after discovering that some of the miniature bottles don’t actually contain whisky.
The lawsuit, filed against Sazerac Company earlier this month, argues that the branding of the Fireball miniatures is misleading.
Sazerac Company makes two different kinds of Fireball: Fireball Cinnamon and Fireball Whisky. The difference, according to the company, is that Fireball Cinnamon is actually a malt-based beverage.
The labels for both alcoholic beverages are similar in design. However, Fireball Cinnamon’s states that it’s a “Malt Beverage with Natural Whisky and Other Flavors and Caramel Color.”
Fireball Cinnamon’s 16.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) is also significantly less than Fireball Whisky’s, which is 33%.
The company describes Fireball Cinnamon as “capturing the essence of the Fireball Whisky taste” while allowing it to be sold in a wider variety of stores.
“Unlike Fireball Whisky, Fireball Cinnamon products can be sold in beer, malt beverage and wine stores for our fans who want a wider variety of convenient shopping locations,” the company explains. “However, many states have laws that prohibit malt beverage and wine-based products being sold above a certain alcohol content.”
“We chose an alcohol content that would allow us to provide our fans with great tasting products and with as many additional shopping locations as possible,” the company continues.
The lawsuit claims shoppers who see the tiny bottles in stores wouldn’t think to inspect the label before purchasing.
The complaint also argues that the Fireball Cinnamon label can easily be misinterpreted.
“Using the words ‘With Natural Whisky and Other Flavors’ is a clever turn of phrase because consumers who strain to read this [won’t] see how ‘Natural Whisky’ is distinct from ‘Other Flavors,'” the lawsuit reads. “They will think the product is a malt beverage with added natural whisky and other flavors.
“What the label means to say is that the product contains ‘Natural Whisky Flavors and Other Flavors,’ but by not including the word ‘Flavors’ after ‘Natural Whisky,’ purchasers who [don’t] look closely will expect the distilled spirit of whisky was added as a separate ingredient.”
In the lawsuit, the woman said the miniature bottle cost her $0.99, adding that she “saw the labeling elements of the Fireball Cinnamon and did not immediately notice the differences from the Fireball Whisky.”
Despite the bargain, the woman claims this is more than she would have spent had she known it didn’t actually contain whisky.
The lawsuit accuses Sazerac Company of fraud, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment.
The complaint not only seeks $5 million, but it also demands the company correct its “challenged practices” by updating the Fireball Cinnamon label.